By Andrew Restuccia -
Top House Republicans are launching an investigation into the Obama administration's decision to abandon plans to store the country's nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), the chairman of the panel’s environment subcommittee, said Thursday the investigation will focus on the administration’s motivations for ending funding for the project and withdrawing its license.
There was “no scientific or technical basis for withdrawing the application,” the lawmakers alleged in a statement.
“The administration’s move to shutter Yucca raises serious red flags,” Upton and Shimkus said. “Despite the scientific community’s seal of approval, extensive bipartisan collaboration, as well as nearly three decades and billions of taxpayer dollars spent, this administration has recklessly sought to pull the plug on the Yucca repository without even the sensibility of offering a viable alternative.”
And the GOP lawmakers said the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan is a reminder that the country must designate a permanent repository for nuclear waste.
“The tragic events unfolding in Japan underscore the urgent need for the United States to pursue a coherent nuclear policy to safely and permanently store spent nuclear fuel,” the lawmakers said in the statement.
Upton and Shimkus sent letters Thursday alerting Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko of the investigation. The letters also requested detailed information about the officials’ role in the decision to abandon Yucca Mountain.
Congress approved Yucca Mountain as the country’s nuclear waste repository in 1982. But the project has been mired by years of delay and opposition from Nevada lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).